MomentumRNN: Integrating Momentum into Recurrent Neural Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Tan Nguyen, Richard Baraniuk, Andrea Bertozzi, Stanley Osher, Bao Wang


Designing deep neural networks is an art that often involves an expensive search over candidate architectures. To overcome this for recurrent neural nets (RNNs), we establish a connection between the hidden state dynamics in an RNN and gradient descent (GD). We then integrate momentum into this framework and propose a new family of RNNs, called {\em MomentumRNNs}. We theoretically prove and numerically demonstrate that MomentumRNNs alleviate the vanishing gradient issue in training RNNs. We study the momentum long-short term memory (MomentumLSTM) and verify its advantages in convergence speed and accuracy over its LSTM counterpart across a variety of benchmarks. We also demonstrate that MomentumRNN is applicable to many types of recurrent cells, including those in the state-of-the-art orthogonal RNNs. Finally, we show that other advanced momentum-based optimization methods, such as Adam and Nesterov accelerated gradients with a restart, can be easily incorporated into the MomentumRNN framework for designing new recurrent cells with even better performance.